Retiring Expectations by
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

I’m a planner. 

Like to have all 

Potentialities acknowledged,

Surveyed, and appropriate

Responses in hand and heart.


So growing up I 

Knew I was a teacher.

The evolution of 

Who I was teaching all 

Neatly corralled in the

Pen of possibility I 

Keep stocked with vigilance


My storybook love

With a soul mate,

And how our relationship

Matured as we did,

My plans always held us

Aging together as we 

Journeyed this ocean of uncertainty 

That is life in partnership.


I knew I was to be a mom

And prided myself for not

Only staying on track

Most of the time,

But even rolling with the 

Quirks, circumstance and dynamics

Of family life-

embracing the challenges,

Because playing whack a mole

Is just part of the deal.

And the richness was the

Delicacy I craved.


I envisioned a remarkable senior hood

Of service and passion

Continuing my spiritual exploration

Amidst more spare time to 


To Love

To Connect

To Revel.

To savor and enjoy

The pieces of life that didn’t

Quite fit in my daily plans

While in my years of prime energy.


However, life knows

Goodness knows, 

Love knows, 

That the universe has a wry sense of


The sweet carpet of my ordered life

got swept out from under me

I spiraled through 



More illness

My Daddy dying

My mama dying

Disabling illness

Grandparenthood without

The abundance I had foreseen.


So, I am here now with 

Tattered plans in hand

Realizing that I can either 

Keep kicking and paddling

Upstream toward

What feels like was

my life

Or pick up my feet and

Float toward a closer


And personal painful pushes

To see beyond 

The limited vision

Of my expectations

Profile photo of January Handl January Handl

Characterizations: been there, moving, right on!, well written


  1. January, your poetry and imagery once again amazes and delights me, I see a human life revealed with all it’s sorrows and joys, disappointments and hopes.
    Brava poetess!

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    January, you always take my breath away with the revelations you manage in so few words. Please keep paddling upstream, but hope you can see beyond and find something uplifting.

  3. This beautiful piece really resonated so much with me. How much we take for granted our health, our relationships and our joy in living when we are young. You expressed these emotions so eloquently by writing a poem.

  4. Marian says:

    Wow, January, this captures so much, and there is much wisdom here. May you keep floating …

  5. January, I sense grace under pressure in you, and it may be that your experience of survival, just keeping your head above water, will ultimately give you more solace and pride than you would have felt had things gone according to plan.

  6. Suzy says:

    January, this is so eloquent! The universe does have a wry sense of irony. I’m sorry for all the pain you have expressed. I hope whether you decide to keep paddling upstream or float toward something different, that you get to somewhere that you are happy to be. Thank you for all you bring to Retrospect!

  7. Laurie Levy says:

    I love this, January. As a fellow planner and teacher, I have been surprised as I age how little control I have over the things that matter the most. Trying not to take for granted the small gifts that flow my way these days.

  8. January, congrats on being the Featured Story this week. Your poems add so much to Retrospect! Hope you will read and comment on other stories when you have time. That’s part of what makes the Retrospect community so special.

Leave a Reply